Sometimes on restaurant menus the appetizers look more exciting than the main courses, and it is tempting to just order a few of them instead, sort of like tapas or meze. Though antipasto is Italian for ‘before food’, i.e. an appetizer or hors d’oeuvre, they are often served together on a large platter and can could easily replace a meal.
Antipasto can be as simple as cold meats and salami, breads, olives, cheeses, marinated and freshly cooked vegetables to bruschetta, fritters, crostini, frittata and many other dishes either served individually or on a mixed platter which would then be called antipasti, i.e. plural of antipasto.
Here are some antipasto ideas that could be served by themselves as an appetizer or combined on a platter for lots of people to share or even as a whole meal in itself.
- Insalata Caprese is a simple salad dish of fresh mozzarella, basil and tomatoes.
- Crostini and Bruschetta are toasts of bread topping with simple, but tasty toppings.
- Italian Breads such as Focaccia, Ciabatta, or Grissini (breadsticks) by themselves and a little olive oil for dipping would make an excellent antipasto.
- Caponata alla Siciliana is a Cooked Eggplant Salad that can be eaten hot or cold.
- Marinated Olives, Stuffed Oilves, Peppers, Artichokes, sun dried tomatoes or mushrooms.
- Tapenade is a dish made from olives, anchovies, capers and olive oil. Though it is from Provence in France, it would be equally at home as an antipasto.
- Cold meats such as Parma Ham, Pancetta, Proscuitto, Salami Milano, Sopressata, Pepperoni, chorizo, etc.
- Cheeses such as Mozzarella, Ricotta, Asiago, Pecorino, etc.
- Cooked vegetables such as grilled eggplant (aubergine), grilled zucchini (courgette), roasted pepper, stuffed mushrooms, asparagus, etc
- Seafood such as sardines, anchovies, fish roe, octopus, squid, seared tuna or any grilled fresh fish that is in season, drizzled with olive oil.
- Frittata – An Italian egg dish somewhere similar to an omelette but with more fillings.